The power of the president of the United States lies in his ability to persuade and Americans should not be dismayed by President-elect Donald Trump’s use of social media to share his perceptions of the political world around him.
Mr Trump’s use of Twitter in particular to express his views on everything from Russia’s alleged attempts to skew the last presidential election to attacking American businesses that want to take their operations overseas has come under scrutiny of political pundits and the media. Just this morning on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, Issie Lapowsky, a journalist, shared her thoughts on Mr Trump’s use of Twitter and the impact it may have on his messaging. I sent in a tweet myself to C-SPAN, opining that the only entities that may have a problem with Mr Trump’s use of the social media platform is the media itself as it sees its traditional role of gatekeeper over access to politicians being usurped by the soon to be inaugurated 45th president.
Traditional media has been reeling over the past decade as newsrooms consolidate operations via merger or acquisition or simply close down. Now they are wondering how far or effective Mr Trump’s circumvention of traditional media will be, a circumvention subject to his own editing (in 140 characters or less). Mr Trump demonstrated during the campaign his penchant to be unconventional and media, still dealing with its own stodginess, is too slow to react.
The political market place expects its barriers to entry to be respected, but the soon-to-be commander (and Twitterer) in chief has no respect for these barriers. It’s too early to tell whether he will maintain the energy or frequency of tweeting as the weight of governance grows, but his supporters appreciate his willingness to connect directly with them and avoid the nuanced language of the current and past presidents.
This directness apparently endeared him to many a rural political media consumer. Although there is a wide gap between the number of rural residents connected to broadband (55%) versus the number of urban residents (74%), enough of the “deplorables” in the “flyover states” followed those tweets and decided to send the political and media elites a message equally disruptive as social media itself.
The bully pulpit has not been stationary for decades. Because of broadband technology, that pulpit is everywhere. As rural communities continue to adopt broadband and the 45th president continues to use social media, the traditional media folks will have no choice but to continue to adjust to competitive alternatives for getting news and messaging to the public.